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Spam bomb

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11. Posted by Sander (Moderator 4808 posts) 7y

Members don't ever get inactivated automatically. Only Sam and Peter can do that, and that'd probably more often take half a day rather than half an hour.
The problem with cleaning up spam immediately is that the posting block depends on two flagged threads, so disappears again when the thread is deleted. And if the spammer is still around at the forum at that point (mechanically following a script to attempt posting on each forum in turn), suddenly those attempts would work again. 20-30 minutes is usually a safe interval in which the spammer will have given up.

We also seem to have received an unusually large number of spammers hitting us in the last three days, both starting new threads and replying to old threads. And with one of the admins off vacationing, there's significantly less coverage of people who can clean up the spam. I'd like to advise other moderators to remember to use the forum_spam page(s) to check for such replies.

I don't think hiding the spam from view completely is a good idea. Yes, that's useful for the really obvious "nike shoes" spam, but we get too many edge cases which only need snipping a URL from a post by otherwise legitimate new members, and you don't want to go give those members the impression that we're even more draconian than we actually are. (As it is, the "spam?" label is upsetting enough as it is for them.)
Maybe hiding threads could be worth looking into if it went in combination with some kind of gradation of the spamminess when reporting, though, so that the reporter could already make the distinction between "obvious spam" and "kinda promotional but okay otherwise"? (Plus a textarea so I can give an explanation when I've spotted a really sneaky spammer!) :)

(Also, Peter, could you add "utrip.asia" to the blacklist, please? It's just not funny anymore how very much those guys don't get the hint.)

[ Edit: Edited on 15-Jul-2009, at 05:25 by Sander ]

12. Posted by Peter (Admin 5789 posts) 7y

Hey guys, sorry, should have been checking more.. Sam's on holidays for a week, so things are a little slower than normal (and spam is higher due to time of year). I've just cleared the whole bunch, blacklisted utrip (and banned their IP) and banned a few of them as well.

I like the suggestions for handling spam better guys - there's just a lot of other things on the boil right now. But eventually we will get around to improving the system a bit more In particular, grading the types of spam is probably a good thing to do, because as Sander says, some people get a bit upset when their posts are spamflagged for relatively minor problems.

Btw, on the point of new members. They *are* actually shown a special note reminding them of forum rules for the first 5 posts or so.

13. Posted by Utrecht (Moderator 5595 posts) 7y

Quoting Peter

Btw, on the point of new members. They *are* actually shown a special note reminding them of forum rules for the first 5 posts or so.

Aha, didn't know that. That's of course a good thing, although you might only catch the few people who accidentaly post a link to something, not the 'nike shoes, viagra pills' spammers.

I guess deleting them quite fast and Sander's note to moderators to keep an extra eye out for the ones that are flagged as spam, is the best thing right now.

14. Posted by bentivogli (Travel Guru 2398 posts) 7y

Quoting Sander

Maybe hiding threads could be worth looking into if it went in combination with some kind of gradation of the spamminess when reporting, though

It's a pleasant surprise to hear you say that, as I seem to remember that you (or maybe it was Hien, I am not quite sure anymore) opposed this suggestion some time ago, saying that the current reasons for spam-flagging were clear enough, and if a post didn't fit them immediately, it probably would not need to be spam-flagged anyway.

Anyhow, irrespective of the whole visibility question, I would really welcome a 'comments' field in the spam procedure, as I have often flagged 'maybies' that I just wanted a mod to have a look at. Such an additional field would save me a lot of PM'ing.

15. Posted by Sander (Moderator 4808 posts) 7y

Quoting bentivogli

Quoting Sander

Maybe hiding threads could be worth looking into if it went in combination with some kind of gradation of the spamminess when reporting, though

It's a pleasant surprise to hear you say that, as I seem to remember that you (or maybe it was Hien, I am not quite sure anymore) opposed this suggestion some time ago, saying that the current reasons for spam-flagging were clear enough, and if a post didn't fit them immediately, it probably would not need to be spam-flagged anyway.

I did say something like that once, but I think it was in response to the suggestion of flagging posts which at present wouldn't be flagged. (We need to avoid the whole slippery slope of posts being reported for typos in thread titles, etc.)
I envision the gradation I'm mentioning above as the difference between "this post clearly breaks the forum rules, but a moderator would probably edit it, after which it'll be okay" and "this is outright spam without any redeeming value, and the person who posted it should be banned without any hesitation".

16. Posted by bentivogli (Travel Guru 2398 posts) 7y

Quoting Sander

I don't think hiding the spam from view completely is a good idea. Yes, that's useful for the really obvious "nike shoes" spam, but we get too many edge cases which only need snipping a URL from a post by otherwise legitimate new members, and you don't want to go give those members the impression that we're even more draconian than we actually are.

This is a good point as well. I was wondering whether it wouldn't be possible, depending on the degree of spamminess of the flagged message, to send an auto-generated PM to its poster, explaining that someone has flagged his message as potential spam, which is why it is hidden from view while a mod is considering it. Really anything would be less obtrusive than these obnoxious red flags.

17. Posted by Utrecht (Moderator 5595 posts) 7y

Quoting Peter

Hey guys, sorry, should have been checking more.. Sam's on holidays for a week, so things are a little slower than normal (and spam is higher due to time of year). I've just cleared the whole bunch, blacklisted utrip (and banned their IP) and banned a few of them as well.
.

Obviously, new name, new IP and there he/she is
Really, some people do need to get a life, without irritating others or trying to make money buy harrassing others as well.

18. Posted by Sander (Moderator 4808 posts) 7y

Additional suggestion: don't include spam-flagged posts in the calculation/thread ordering based on last post in a thread. So when a spammer replies to a thread from 2004, and gets flagged near immediately, have the thread sink back into the obscurity of 2004, rather than staying near the top, running the risk of getting real replies from people who don't notice the date. (Which is particularly annoying if the original poster is getting notified of replies.)

Edit: Maybe just don't allow budding members to reply to a thread which has been dormant for more than 6 months, unless they've posted in it before?

[ Edit: Edited on 18-Jul-2009, at 04:30 by Sander ]

19. Posted by Sander (Moderator 4808 posts) 7y

'nother suggestion: don't show threads marked as spam in the "Latest Threads" taglet on the front page.

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